Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dropbox - Updated

I wrote a post a few days ago about a free service called DropBox.  I did not know much about it at the time but I decided to sign up for an account.  It is hard to believe but this decision has dramatically improved my life in this short period of time.  I know that sounds extreme but I am serious - I am already in love with DropBox!

Here is what the application does in a nutshell.  DropBox gives you 2GB of free space on their server.  You create a DropBox folder on your computer, mine is in the "My Documents" folder.  From that point you can put files into the folder and they are automatically transferred to the DropBox server.  Not only does this create a backup of your file, it also allows you to access the files from other computer, in several ways.

I can easily view files on my iPod Touch, or an iPhone if you have one.  You can email copies of the files to your friends directly from the iPhone app.  You can also view files anywhere you can get an Internet connection, through any web browser.  In this posting, I am not going to focus on the mobile aspects of DropBox becuase that is not really why I love it so much.

The greatest part of DropBox happens when you install the program on two or more computers.  I have it on both my home and work laptops.  When I change a file in my DropBox folder at home, my DropBox folder at work is automatically updated to match.  In essence, I now have three copies of my files and all of the copies are exactly the same.  I can work on a file at home, save it to the DropBox folder, and finish it at work the next day.

Now for the life-changing part...it works with my Family Tree Maker files!  I have Family Tree Maker 2010 installed at home and at work.  I saved my FTM file in the DropBox folder at home and, each time I close out Family Tree Maker, DropBox sends the changes to its server and then to my work computer.  I can actually work on my genealogy files during my lunch at work, without dragging my laptop from home every day.  I have been doing this for a week or so now without any problems.  It is wonderful!  I can actually work on the same file, from multiple computers, and not have multiple versions of that file.  All of the changes are merged together!

I have only been doing this for a few days so I am still a little weary about trusting it completely.  I am keeping another backup copy of my genealogy files on my home laptop for now.  However, I plan on continuing to use DropBox and I will let you know if I ever have any problems with it.  In the mean time, you can sign up for free and try it too.  They have some paid plans, but only if you need more space.  I would be interested to know if this works with other genealogy software programs.  I would imagine that it would do just fine but always keep a backup when if you try something new.


Anonymous said...

Could you be more specific as to how you go about saving FTM 2010 files
to Dropbox? I want to do this but I'm unsure if I should save backup
files to a custom directory which is dropbox or what.

Kevin Lett said...

All you have to do is save your family tree maker file into the folder that dropbox creates. Put all of your media files in there too. Pretty much everything that FTM2010 created in the "Family Tree Maker" folder, probably
in your "My Documents". When you open FTM2010, you will have to tell it that you moved the files into the dropbox folder. You can click the file > open thing in the menu and find the dropbox folder. It works just as it did before, just the files are in the new folder. Dropbox really does not do anything special with the file to "merge" it. Once you close FTM it simply saves the updated copy to the dropbox server.

Hope this clear is up.


Disaster preparedness said...

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MissPeggy55 said...

I love the idea of using dropbox, but when I try to open it up from dropbox it asks me what program I want to use to open it. Any ideas?